I found myself in the Dutch land on the 21st September 2013 exactly at 15:00hrs. I really got the shocking truth when I saw most people cycle to and from, got thrilled by large bike parks in schools, train and bus stations. Cycling is actually in the blood of the Dutch! It is part and parcel of their daily lives, their culture and a way of life. The Dutch people reminded me of how everyone needs to take a role in saving our planet earth by being eco-friendly and in this regard by the use of the “green transport”- the bicycles. My business inspiration got triggered again and I couldn’t wait to go back home and open up my bicycle rental outlets though at the same time it seemed like I was still dreaming because of the difficulties I am still going through the start up of the business.
Changing the image
For a high time Africa and more specifically Malawi (The Warm heart of Africa) where I come from has only been identified globally with Poverty, HIV/Aids, Malaria, Poor democratic leadership and high rates of corruption. I for one believe that the donor funding community and investors should look at things more differently by considering Africa as a worthy investing region and start believing in its people, a total shift that turns it from a “Donor Dependent” continent to an “Economically Independent” continent through its Potential Entrepreneurs.
I agree with most people that entrepreneurship has the majority share in job creation and the strength to building economy globally. As Jon Butcher expressed it: “Entrepreneurs have literally destroyed poverty in the Western world as the rest of the world knows it and as history knows it. No other social system can compete with the entrepreneurial free market system in terms of productivity, raising standards of living and creating permanent prosperity. Asia has exploded out of poverty in the lifetime thanks to entrepreneurs. Huge chunks of poverty should be taken out of Africa in the next ten years, thanks to up-and-coming entrepreneurs”.
Apart from the need for business mentors and skills, “lack of start-up capital” is the major problem that hinders potential entrepreneurs in Africa from starting up businesses. Capital is not easily accessed for new start-up businesses because financial institutions are not flexible; they have rigid and outdated risk assessment procedures that hinder potential businesses to get off the ground, develop and grow. For those who are lucky to acquire the funding it comes with a price: high interest rate charges which eventually inhibit steady growth of the businesses.
As an example it has taken me almost five years now since I had my plan to open up bicycle rental outlets and I have not rolled up yet since financial institutions do not guarantee funding based on a business idea no matter how brilliant it maybe. I believe it is one thing having an idea but eventually that’s no use if you can’t talk to people who are willing to buy in. Entrepreneurs need relationships with potential investors hence the trouble for coming up with my article at this space so generously granted.
Probably I should congratulate some International Dutch Organizations who are already helping out but I know for sure we need a lot of them to reach out to the greater masses of potential entrepreneurs who are very willing to cooperate and develop their nations. There is dire need for Africans to take up global opportunities and agreements but also to be open minded to learn from what other entrepreneurs do in other parts of the world.
We are crying for more Wealth Creation Programs, Job Creation Programs, Creativity Enhancement Programs and Entrepreneurial Training Programs that will help both small and medium enterprises contribute significantly to the creation of formal and informal employment leading to development and good living standards. Entrepreneurship is a great asset to any nation therefore investing in ambitious and hardworking youths/citizens is a long term solution to poverty and development in Africa.
I rest my case.